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Dana Sinclair

SAT Essay Theme: Other

Welcome to another installment of our 10 SAT Essay Theme Guides series! Today we’re discussing the themes that don’t fit into a specific group.

There are many things that can be categorized as other. Other literally is everything that doesn’t fit into a set category. When I fill out my SAT, other standardized tests, and college apps, I check off other for ethnicity, because I don’t fit into one set category (for those who are curious, I am Filipino-American aka Asian and Caucasian descendance). I’m sure many of you find yourself in the other category too.


Just like any other topic in the world, there are prompts in the SAT that just can’t be categorized well. They are usually more vague and give a lot of freedom to express opinions. Let’s take a look!


Past Prompts:

  • Do small decisions often have major consequences?
  • Are people overly influenced by unrealistic claims and misleading images?
  • Is it best to forget about past mistakes as soon as possible?
  • Are people too serious?
  • Is it a disadvantage to pay attention to details?


Recommended Reading:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book is one of those books that can be used for almost any prompt. It holds so many universal themes within it that you can almost always find a way to work it into your essay. Bonus! This book is such a classic that most of us have read it at least once in our high school career.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Again, another classic that most of us have read. If you haven’t read this novel, I highly recommend reading it just for personal knowledge. It is a book that also holds multiple themes that are easily used for many essays, especially the more obscure prompts of the Other category.


Example Outline

This is a basic outline of how to organize an essay. Since this category is more vague, this outline can be implemented and molded to fit your style and need.


  1. Hook
  2. Thesis
  3. Optional: Padded sentence (this is a sentence to add more eloquence and transition into your next paragraph. If you’re strapped for time, go ahead and skip it.)

Second Paragraph: Book Example

  1. Introduction
  2. Quote
  3. Analysis
  4. Quote
  5. Analysis

Third Paragraph: Historical Event

  1. Introduction
  2. Fact
  3. Analysis
  4. Fact
  5. Analysis

Fourth Paragraph: Current Event (Last 15-20 years)

  1. Introduction
  2. Fact
  3. Analysis
  4. Fact
  5. Analysis

Conclusion (Must have a conclusion!!)

  1. Restate thesis
  2. Tie second-fourth paragraphs together


Example Essay:

Here is an example essay written by a student just like you and me!


Common Mistakes:

1.Not taking a stance

It is easy to jump between sides when writing an essay in the other category. The best way to avoid confusion is to take a firm stance on the prompt. Choose either yes or no on whether you agree with the prompt and go from there. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter what side you choose when writing the essay, just whether you write it coherently and well.

2.Straying from the prompt

Since these prompts are very broad, it is easy to stray away from the main point. Make sure to create an outline to avoid drifting off task. An outline will also keep you on track while writing against the clock.

3. Turning yourself into an example

While a life event or quality may fit into what the prompt is asking, I strongly advise against using yourself. The reader doesn’t know who you really are or the validity of your personal accomplishments and life. It makes for a poor example when using an unproven fact.


The Takeaway:

This category tends to be a bit more vague than the others. The benefit of receiving an essay from this category is the freedom it gives you. There is usually more wiggle room to include obscure books, events, and history.



About Dana Sinclair

Dana is a current high school senior who enjoys writing when she has a free moment. When she’s not studying, reading, or interning, she loves to go exploring the Bay Area with her friends. She loves discovering new activities and learning as much as she can. She hopes to help fellow students achieve their goal by sharing her knowledge on how to navigate high school life.

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